“And that’s how it all got started”
The story of Aico Requests started back in 2013 when one of our customers handled their requests (or assignments as they called them) in Lotus Notes. The customer handled many different types of requests in their system – manual payments, manual invoices, fixed asset write-offs and sales, due date changes of purchase invoices/sales invoices, master data management requests, vendor/customer opening and maintenance requests, free form requests, and so on. I’m sure this list is familiar to those working with financial processes. Each of these requests is very diverse and the number of transactions can be high, all this consumes a lot of time and a solution was urgently needed.
The customer wanted to replace their old system with a system that would deliver features such as:
- Web-based template for entering data and for standardising the quality of requests by requiring all relevant fields to be filled out
- Each template can have a workflow of its own if needed
- Validation of data input can be done while creating the request
- Templates can contain online integration to external systems, typically ERP
- Service teams can handle requests and team leaders can manage request queues within teams
- Quality of service could be tracked and analysed with SLA reporting
- Requestors could recall and return requests back to service teams if the result was not satisfactory.
The typical way of dealing with this kind of situations is to introduce an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool in the finance department. These tools provide a model where service teams handle requests based on their priority and there is often an SLA between the business and IT. Managers can follow up and manage the work, and prioritising the requests helps in completing requests in the right order and in understanding the effects of the change. The SLA reporting helps the management understand how effective the team is.
Birth of Aico Requests
At Aico, we decided to create a solution from the financial process perspective. Our objective is to support financial process requirements instead of trying to fit financial processes into an ITSM tool. At the same time, we wanted to include the good features and principles that ITSM tools had introduced over the years so that adopting Aico would not feel too complicated. This is how the Aico Request solution was created. Using Aico, customers can create request templates as a self-service, set up workflows for templates and authorise people participating the process. Users can then create requests either manually, from a copy, or automatically based on external system data or on a recurrence rule.
The pricing of our Requests solution is based on the number of requests made rather than the number of users so that any employee can make a request without needing to buy them a license. Even small processes can be added at a minimum cost. These processes typically have no suitable tool in the market but require just enough work by the Finance team to be annoying. Aico Requests is an especially powerful tool in SSC (Shared Services Centre) or GBS (Global Business Support) environments and in companies that have outsourced their financial processes. Try to imagine a situation where business users can follow up online the status of their requests and service teams can see the requests in the queue in priority order. With Aico Requests this is reality.
In my next blog entry, I will look at RPA (Robotic Process Automation) which has brought a tremendous increase in automation investments in financial processes as well. I feel for the top financial management who are trying to figure out where to invest – robotization, process digitalisation, or something else? Would it be enough to digitalise in some cases and if yes, when? What are the best scenarios to use RPA and when should it not be used? I add here an interesting question – could RPA and Aico complement each other and would that be the best result? And what are the savings that could be gained in the end?
Would you like to hear more about Aico? Feel free to contact us!